WEG Dressage Experience
A glimpse from the inside
By Allyson Rogers
After having a fabulous time as groom for Todd Flettrich at the Aachen, Germany show this year, I said “Yes” with absolute certainty to reprising my role as groom for Todd when he became a member of the U.S. 2010 WEG Dressage Team, following the selection trials at Gladstone, NJ in August.
The U.S. Dressage Team was composed of Steffen Peters, riding Ravel; Tina Konyot, riding Calecto V, Katherine Bateson-Chandler, riding Nartan; and Todd Flettrich, riding Otto. I joined the newly formed dressage team on September 25, a day after their arrival in Lexington Kentucky.
I was already familiar with the members of the team. I got to know Tina Konyot during Aachen this summer, where Todd and Tina competed together. Katherine Bateson-Chandler and I have been friends for over 15 years, since she started working for Robert Dover at roughly the same time I started with Steffen Peters (for whom I worked for over 10 years). We took many trips together, both nationally and internationally.
Great camaraderie happens in a newly formed team, brought on by the inordinate amount of time spent together for the common goal of representing the USA at an international event. Everyone stays at the same hotel, eats together, supports each other, watches and offers opinions on the riding and training. The same set of circumstances form the bonds with grooms. When one member of the team shows, no matter whose “rider” it is, all of the grooms accompany him/her through the stressful and exhausting process of getting horse, rider, and all accoutrements to the arena, and then back. After a few days on the job, I realized why grooming at this level is a young person’s job. Considering the size of the Kentucky Horse Park and how spread out everything was, I think I logged more miles there than in the whole previous year!
The polished ride that people see in the show arena is a tiny part of what really happens in the training and lives of the riders and horses. Watching the drama that unfolds behind the scenes in the barn and arenas is the best part. For example, a very famous pair, who were expected to win a medal, were the talk of the show the first week, as they trained for hours and hours. But as it turned out, they did not medal, nor even finish. Then there was the fun of watching Edward Gal and his cohesive relationship with the black stallion Totilas. I watched how Edward handled the stallion both under saddle and on the ground, spending much time with him, walking him, and helping bathe him.
Heading into competition days at the end of the first week, the tension had risen significantly. Though the team was still cohesive, the seriousness of the situation was marked! The Team Grand Prix competition was held September 27-28. In the final results, the U.S. Team placed fourth, just out of the medals, but only 11 points behind the first place Netherlands team.
At the end of two Grand Prix days, the team moved on to the Special. On September 29, U.S. rider Steffen Peters made history when he rode Ravel to the Grand Prix Special Individual Bronze Medal in the Dressage World Championships
As we moved towards Freestyle night, Steffen remained in the top 15. We all believed that he had a very good chance of an individual medal after his Bronze in the Special. And so he did! Steffen won the Bronze Medal in the Grand Prix Freestyle. The evening was amazing! The stands were packed and boisterous in their enthusiasm. Totilas was, as always, a star, as Edward Gal and Totilas won the Gold Medal in the Grand Prix Freestyle.
By that evening I was dreaming of my bed, my horses, my clients, and returning to the happy normalcy of life in my corner of the world. Although I have no desires to ride at that level and be subjected to the high degree of pressure and stress, it was entertaining, exhilarating, exhausting and educational. I came away inspired by the extremely good riding and training, and determined to stay away from the bad.
Allyson Rogers is the trainer at Massar Stables. Find out more about her at: www.ALRDressage.com
. Full results for the WEG Dressage Competition can be found at: www.alltechfeigames.com
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